Last week, I was invited to a grown-ups only event in association with Sky One and Now TV for the launch of the A Discovery of Witches TV series. A Discovery of Witches is a New York Times Best Seller, written by American author and scholar, Deborah Harkness. It’s the first book in a historical fantasy fiction trilogy about magic, witches, vampires and daemons, There is a love story amid the darkness, with a healthy dose of science and history too. The sequels to A Discovery of Witches in the All Souls Trilogy are “Shadow of Night” and “The Book of Life”.

A Discovery of Witches book by Deborah Harkness with a notepad and tote bag from the launch of A Discovery of Witches TV Series

Many Deborah Harkness’ fans have been longing for the books to be made into a TV series for years and now that has finally become a reality. The trilogy has been made into a TV series which airs in the UK on Sky One, Sky One HD and Now TV on September 14th at 9pm.

Spellbound exhibition of magic, ritual and witchcraft at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

On arrival at the event in Oxford, where A Discovery of Witches TV series is filmed (and the book is set), we started our evening in Waterstones. Deborah Harkness and star of the TV series Teresa Palmer, were meeting fans and autographing books. There was also a pop-up science lab in Waterstones window, where you could go to find out what species you are. A mouth swab, analysed on a computer screen, followed by a personality test, by a doctor in a white coat, determined whether I was a vampire, daemon, witch or human. To my surprise I turned out to be… a Vampire!

Creature lab at the book signing of A Discovery of Witches, where a scientist tests to decide if I am a Vampire, Witch, Daemon or Human. I was diagnosed as a vampire. This event preceeded the launch of the A Discovery of Witches TV series on Sky One and Now TV

Upon discovering that I am in fact a vampire and being instructed not to mix with any other species, we took the short walk to our next destination.

Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford. This grand building looks extra special at night with the pillars all lit up. My visit to the Ashmolean was prior to a private screening of the very first episode of A Discovery of Witches TV series

“Spellbound” is a magical exhibition currently on display at The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and we were invited for a private tour. The tour began with some props from the TV set of A Discovery of Witches.

Props from the set of A Discovery of Witches TV series, including Ashmole 782 book, keys bearing alchemy symbols, books, a voodoo doll and other magical objects from the TV show and book by Deborah Harkness.

Props from the set of A Discovery of Witches TV series, including a collection of keys bearing alchemy symbols.

I was quite frankly astounded by the immense collection of historical evidence of alchemy. I had always thought witchcraft was just a collection of old stories, but in actual fact, there’s a great deal of artefacts that prove the practising of witchcraft over the centuries. Not only that, but the rituals used to repel witches too. From symbolism to voodoo dolls and lucky charms to hand written and illustrated spell books. There were even scales for deciding if witches should be burned at the stake, based on the weight of their magic. The Ashmolean’s Spellbound feature was fascinating and I walked away feeling as though I’d learnt a great deal about history and alchemy. What I found most interesting, was that much of the evidence showed that the majority of magic practised was centred around love. Spells, rituals and charms were performed with the purpose of attracting someone to fall in love.

 

An unopened silver bottle, sealed with wax, believed to contain a witch, on display at the Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

An unopened silver bottle, sealed with wax, believed to contain a witch, on display at the Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

Voodoo doll and other witchcraft objects from the Spellbound Exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

Voodoo doll and other objects of witchcraft from the Spellbound Exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

Witch weighing scales on exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

Witch weighing scales on exhibition at the Ashmolean in Oxford, UK.

After a somewhat enlightening tour of the Ashmolean, we had time for a quick glass of OJ (or Prosecco in the case of non-drivers) before the most anticipated part of the evening. Armed with a bottle of water and a bag of popcorn each, we went downstairs to a private screening of the very first episode of A Discovery of Witches TV series. The series was introduced by Deborah Harkness and Teresa Palmer, who gained a rapturous applause, before taking their seats.

Teresa Palmer and Deborah Harkness

Teresa Palmer and Deborah Harkness at the launch of the A Discovery of Witches TV series

Each episode of the A Discovery of Witches TV series is one hour long, but that hour flew by. The story follows lead character Diana, an alchemy historian, who is secretly a witch. Diana discovers an ancient manuscript in the library, which appears only to her and her uncovering it disturbs the whole of the supernatural world. A vampire known as Dr Clairmont (played by Matthew Goode) takes to stalking Diana, after discovering she has summoned the book that he has long been searching for. The book has the power to tell the fate of Vampires, Daemons and Witches all over the world and so naturally, they all want the book. The interactions between Diana and Dr Clairmont are deeply uncomfortable, as the two species are not supposed to mix, yet they seem drawn to each other.

 

Meeting Deborah Harkness at a private screening of the first ever episode of A Discovery of Witches TV Series, one week prior to TV launch.

I must confess, that I have not yet read the book, so I have absolutely no idea what happens next. What I can say though, is that the first episode of A Discovery of Witches TV series was gripping. I didn’t think it would be my sort of thing, but it was and it really draws you in in that first hour. The first episode airs this Friday and the second episode the following week. My husband and I will miss the second episode as we will be in Mexico, so I am planning to read my signed copy of the book on the flight over. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on the TV series on my return to the UK.

A Discovery of Witches book signed by Deborah Harkness and A Discovery of Witches black tote bag

A Discovery of Witches TV series launches in the UK on Sky One and Sky One HD at 9pm on Friday September 14th 2018.

For those people who do not have access to Sky TV (like me), A Discovery of Witches TV series can also be watched on NOW TV. Now TV is a subscription service with no contract, so you can pay monthly for a TV package and cancel at any time.

 

*Disclaimer
I was compensated for my travel and expenses, gifted a signed book and paid a fee for attending this event, but all words and opinions are entirely my own, unbiased and honest opinions.

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